Indigenous community to hold ACT government to account

Instead, elected body chairwoman Katrina Fanning said, the «teeth» of the agreement was in action plans that had been drawn up for each directorate, which included specific indicators in a similar vein to the national Closing the Gap reports.


It is unclear what specific measures were included in the action plans, or the deadlines by which they should be met, as the government would not publicly disclose the plans on Tuesday.

But Ms Fanning said the plans would ensure the Indigenous community was at the table when key decisions were made affecting the community about service delivery across all portfolios, with reviews of progress every 18 months.

While the ACT performs better on some measures than other jurisdictions in Closing the Gap reports, it has long had a chequered relationship with Indigenous Canberrans and has performed worse than most jurisdictions on Indigenous contact with the child protection and the justice systems.

Ms Fanning said the elected body had been working for more than a year reviewing about a decade of relevant reports and consulting the Indigenous community to find the specific issues that most needed action.


But she said the reviews of the action plans would allow the body and government to update them or change the indicators to allow for new information or more urgent action, and the Indigenous community would be leading the work.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the government’s performance on issues affecting Indigenous Canberrans was better than other places, but still not good enough, promising to achieve better results in the future.

The signing of the agreement also came as Opposition Indigenous affairs spokesman James Milligan published a raft of proposals for Indigenous Canberrans the Liberals’ will take to the 2020 election, including considering an Indigenous residential rehabilitation centre.

He said the government had had 18 years in power to address key Indigenous issues from child protection to health to the over-representation of Aboriginal men and women in Canberra’s jail, but had failed to achieve anything.

Mr Milligan said while the agreement was a good thing, he was concerned the action plans might not lead to appreciable positive outcomes for the community, and he wanted to see the details in the plans before commenting further.

Daniel Burdon is a reporter for The Canberra Times

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